A “confident smile on his lips,” Dr. Pierre Foldes welcomes journalist Camille Vigogne le Coat. He has just concluded a successful restoration, one of thousands, and she has come to his office in Saint-Germain-en-Laye to find out more about the ‘gentle giant’ whose mission in life is to repair damage caused by other men – as he would phrase it. On a full page in Libération, le Coat captures the essence of the “architect of the clitoris,” a fellow whose bourgeois background would not have presaged the activist physician and self-defined male feminist that Foldes has become. In 1984 in Burkina Faso, confronted by a mother suffering unbearable pain, he found out almost by accident that removing the excision scar also provided relief. Intervening years back in France taught him to perfect the procedure and, in 2001, obtain funding for it from the National Health Service, a prerequisite for the hundreds of mainly young African immigrant women who have since sought him out. Le Coat solicits the surgeon’s feelings on a number of important issues. Regarding his patients he states, “Excision wounds an organ that remains sensitive all their lives,” causing at times permanent discomfort. And he adds that “the suffering isn’t only physical but moral. When they come here for the first time, [just opening up acts] like therapy, [especially given that] excision is not infrequently accompanied by domestic violence, [conjugal] rape, incest, miscarriage and abortion.” As a pioneering member of Doctors without Borders, Foldes, responsible for Asia, claims adherence to an evolving “Kouchner doctrine” now relying on cooperative interventions in areas of crisis. And, at about 6’2″, Foldes is a large man aware of the need to avoid negative behavior. “I try not to appear macho,” he says, although a colleague, Dr. Odile Buisson, notes how “crazy it was to have this big bruiser show up on his motorcycle to ask me to study the clitoris with him.” Also a violinist, Foldes is courageous in confronting female genital mutilation as a whole. He even ventures to account for its origins: “The will to mutilate the bodies of women is, for men, a product of fear of the ecstasy in female sexuality.” And, writes le Coat, “he confesses to feeling as though male guilt for violence against women were resting on his shoulders.” To learn more about this remarkable doctor, see Hubert Prolongeau. Undoing FGM. Pierre Foldes, the Surgeon Who Restores the Clitoris. To order at a discount: http://www.uncutvoices.com
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